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Friday, March 28, 2008

SNOW

Early this morning I took this photo. It was so dim, the flash went off, capturing the big snowflakes of the heavy, wet snow which is falling. At least 6 inches predicted. That's on top of the 18 inches already here. So lets see...we're expecting spring in August.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

'GBH

Great Blue Heron, that's what we saw this morning. There is a little open water at the mouth of a brook that feeds into our lake and the Great Blue Heron was trying to land in the open water. Just a tad too early. It's understandable that this bird would be testing to see if its feeding grounds were available. We suggest it come back in a week. We always wonder about these early arrivals who come to their breeding areas and find there is just too much snow and ice still here. They come and then often we don't see them for awhile. Do they reverse migrate for a spell? One would hope so.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Mountain Corgi

This morning, Don said, "good news, we're down to 18 inches of snow." This is relative good news, since there was 24 inches when he put a measuring stick in the snow a week ago. So it has melted 6 inches.
Speaking of relative, there is a relative mountain of snow, still on our deck where it has been piled from shoveling, if you are Corgi-sized. Here is Phoebe, our Pembroke Welsh Corgi, demonstrating.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Bluebirds Today!

Eastern Bluebird, male

Eastern Bluebird, female

Today, in the early morning 16 degree temperature, with 2 feet of snow on the ground, we saw a male and female bluebird going in and out of our birdhouses. Wow! Hello bluebirds. We had so many questions. Where did you come from? Had you been sleeping nearby or did you just migrate last night and arrive this morning? Are you the same bluebirds who nested here several years ago, in the same boxes you were now exploring? What are you eating, the berries and crabapples are mainly gone, consumed by all the "irruptive species" who visited this winter. Where will you go today, where will you sleep tonight? Will you really stay and nest, and is this just house hunting in ernest, or just dippping your toe in the water. So many questions. We wish they could talk.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Vision

We are envisioning spring, as we sit here with lots of snow on the ground, cold, and howling winds today. Photo of our garden May, 16 '07. Have a nice weekend, try and watch some birds.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Spring inside

Today, its spring inside, winter outside with snow and sleet. A Robin got some of the last crabapples and a Junco showed up at the feeders. We told it to go south for a few more weeks.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Red-winged Blackbird

This morning, while walking across our snowy field, we heard a Red-winged Blackbird singing. With our 2 feet of snow on the ground, and frozen lake, it seems too early for him to be back. The dilemna for male birds returning to set up territories is — if you return earlier than your compeitors you may get the best territory, but bad weather may make survival questionable.
Hope he finds our bird feeders when the snow and icy weather arrive tomorrow.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sno' Fun


Here back in NH, from southern GA, the snow is 2 feet deep. In GA, the dogwoods were just about out. As we drove through the Carolinas and VA, daffodils were in full bloom, in PA daffodills were just about to bloom. The snow line is around Northhampton, MA. As we said, latitude matters.

And today the snow turned green for -

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Barn Swallow, Tree Swallows

Barn Swallow

Tree Swallows

We just saw some migrating Barn Swallows in southern GA, another sign of spring. We saw 2 of them them on the coast, gliding over some dune areas with ponds where there were some insects, which they were eating. When we have been in FL in March, we have also seen Barn Swallows migrating along the coast, flying singly or in a very small groups.

Contrast this with our experiences of Tree Swallows, who we see wintering and migrating in impressively large flocks, sometimes numbering in the thousands. Perhaps this difference in migration strategies has to do with these different swallow species food sources. In winter, Tree Swallows eat insects but especially Bayberries, and in the south, Wax Myrtle berries. The advantage of traveling in a large flock is that you have many eyes to search for the erratically located berry bushes. We have seen Tree Swallows in FL find a patch of Wax Myrtle and descend like a cloud, then gobble 'til the berries are depleted. During breeding, Tree Swallows eat insects, just like Barn Swallows.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Turkey Vulture

Believe it or not, the return of Turkey Vultures is another sign of spring. Turkey Vultures have been spotted in NH and other northern areas. Their big black "V" shape while soaring is a great ID clue. This is a bird I think of as pretty from a distance, kind of ugly up close. A valuable avian contributor is this 'nature's garbage collector.' Turkey Vultures feed on carrion. They're one of the few birds that have a well developed sense of smell and that helps them locate dead animals obscured by foliage. Keep looking up for this sign of spring.

Photo © Lillian Stokes, 2008

Friday, March 07, 2008

Signs of spring

Daffodils on a GA roadside. In GA, flowers such as azaleas are starting to bloom, Mockingbirds and many other birds are singing and severe storms punctuate the warm weather. In more northern areas, Cleveland is getting a record snow storm and New England has the endless winter. Latitude matters.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Hummingbirds are coming!



Believe it or not, hummingbirds have already started arriving in the southern part of the U.S. Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been spotted in Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas, so time to get the hummingbird feeders up in those areas. If you're in the snowy northern parts of the country, it seems like a long time before hummingbirds will be enthralling you. These photos may help you dream about it. You can track their progress and see other people's spring hummer sightings on this fun website, go here:

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Mockingbird

I took this Mockingbird photo recently in GA. Not easy to get. I love the challenge of photographing birds in flight. You have to watch them carefully and anticipate what they will do. You need as much advance time as you can get, usually seconds at best, to get the camera up and focused on them. I watched this one as it watched for insects on the ground. Then it went down to grab an insect. I had to be patient, wait for it to fly, then, as fast as I could, center the camera on it and hit the button. This is where the Canon Mark II excells, with it's super fast autofocus and multiple frames per second capture. Voila!
Not only did I get this cool shot, even showing it with an insect in its bill, but I had the enjoyment of taking the time to get into the life and mind of this Mockingbird.

Photo © Lillian Stokes, 2008